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Poster: Tidewater four ten O nine Date: Sep 13, 2012 3:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

Here's a photo of a tape machine that stuck in my mind. It was uploaded to the forum as part of a post by a chap called Dead Head Monte. I accept that this one dates from after the show I first mentioned and was obviously not available for the early shows comprising the Dead's history but, like I said, the picture stuck in my mind.

Another memory that sticks in my mind is of one review of a show on the archive (sorry but I can't remember which one) where a couple of tapers were so sure that they were gonna get searched and lose their kit (during a time when taping was discouraged), that they entered the venue the day before (I think it was something like a sports arena) and buried their tape machine and supporting kit a foot or so in the ground. The day of the show, they turned up (apparently without any taping gear), got in, found the place where they buried it, recovered it and came out with a great recording. That story always makes me smile, but it could have gone horribly wrong.

Thanks for your response.

Attachment: My_VPR-5_007.jpg

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Poster: Administrator, Curator, or StaffMonte B Cowboy Date: Sep 13, 2012 8:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Tape-flips (probably a stopiid question)

The photo you attached is a VPR-5 tape deck. It is a one-inch, type-C format, portable VTR (video tape recorder). Co-developed by Ampex & Nagra in early 1984, the portable VPR-5 tape deck won an Emmy Award for Technical Excellence. I was working for Ampex as a field service engineer during this time period. The photo shows the VPR-5's reel-hubs in the "outward" position, allowing for larger tape reels to be used. Normally, smaller-sized reels (spot reels) were used, and the reel hubs were in the "inward" position.

I included discussion threads about reel-flips in my Taper's Handbook:
http://archive.org/post/347359/staff-requests-suggestions-for-spotliight-item
Note: Reel-flips and reel-changes are similar. But they are two different things. Also note, the "reel-changing" sequences for reel-to-reel tapes and decks are different than the flipping and/or changing sequences on cassette tapes and decks.
Ampex equipment has been involved in at least two "extreme-engineering design-breakthroughs" that addressed the reel-changing issues for taping live shows in the field on reel-to-reel tape recorders. The VPR-5 was a great example of this being addressed for TV broadcasters and video production crews in 1984. For the GD, Ron Wickersham designed and built another Ampex example in 1972. Preparations were being made for a big European Tour and a live album with the Grateful Dead. The album would be simply named, "Europe '72". Ron was entrenched in redesigning the Ampex MM-1000 16-track audio recorder. Uninterrupted tape recording was limited by the existing transport that accommodated 10" reels. He was transforming the MM-1000 from its flat transport with eight tracks on top and eight tracks below into a video transport that would accommodate larger 14" reels to extend recording time between tape changes. He planned to redesign it to 30ips to improve the sound quality and reduce the drop-out rate. More details about this are in my Taper's Handbook.

Lastly, I would add that, in addition to what LiA wrote: sometimes on tapes you'll hear what sounds like the crew messing around with levels on the SBD at the beginning of shows. To me, it sounds like sometimes they exaggerated levels up and down -- to do "sound-checks" on the various mics, amps, pickups, and vocals -- to make sure stuff is working properly at the start of the show. The result is that the mix is somewhat out-of-whack during these "testing-mix" and "sound-check" moments.

This post was modified by Monte B Cowboy on 2012-09-13 15:39:53